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Essar Steel Minnesota Pays Vendors, Satisfies Governor

Written by Sandy Williams

Essar Steel Minnesota met a deadline set by Governor Mark Dayton to repay $66 million in incentives owed the state after failing to complete a $1.9 billion integrated iron ore-to-steel mill. The governor gave Essar a deadline of Friday, December 4, to make payments to vendors on the project and provide assurances that future debts will be met on time.

After Essar Steel Minnesota paid, in full, $20 million in outstanding obligations, the governor’s office said the state will not call for an immediate repayment of the incentive loans.

“Commissioner Phillips and Ms. Polasky conducted additional due diligence efforts overnight Wednesday and Thursday. They confirmed with the company, its vendors, and its CEO, Madhu Vuppuluri, that Essar Steel Minnesota had paid, in full, $20 million in outstanding obligations to its vendors, meeting the governor’s October 12th demands,” said the governor’s press secretary, Matt Swenson.

According to the Governor’s statement, an international bank is working with Essar Steel to provide additional capital that will “help assure the completion of the project, with timely payment of its contractors and vendors, moving forward.”

“We appreciate the work and support of the governor and the state agencies as we here at Essar continue to focus our efforts on this massive project along with the support of contractors to keep construction activities progressing on the project,” responded Essar Steel officials. “We also hope to finalize a payment agreement with the governor’s administration soon to reimburse the state for the $65.9 million grant utilized to construct the publicly-owned infrastructure servicing the Essar Steel Minnesota site.

Essar Steel Minnesota scrapped plans to build the steel mill on the Iron Range due to financial problems. The taconite facility is about 75 percent completed and is expected to produce 7 million tons of pellets annually and employ approximately 350 employees.

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